User Reviews – Madagascar
Email CarolineG | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
I thought my trip to Madagascar was amazing. I went for 2 weeks with Natural Habitat Adventures in the Summer of 2013. We saw 21 species of lemurs, an endless number of birds, with many endemics, and lots of chameleons. Our accommodations were superb and our two guides were both very knowledgeable and friendly.
Email Gaston Batistini | 65+ years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Email Zoizeaux de Gabriel. Gabriel Leboff | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
Madagascar : country of landscape and light !
Wildlife is unique and amazing, sceneries are exceptionnal ! Wheater, let's say : hot in september , accomodations are at the opposite : you can get high level comfort as well poor with sanitaries very very ... simple (forget hot water !).
if you travel by car : 4 x 4 is obligatory and you could have 10/11 hours driving on terrific tracks !
We knew our driver and guide and he is Great !
If you "break the ice", malagasy people are sweet and kind, you just have to avoid Tana !
Email johco266 | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
A fantastic experience overall
Due to the winter time wildlife was not aboundend but spectacular anyway. Lots of encounters with lemurs, chameleons, lizards, spectacular insects, mangoose and quite some birds wich resulted in quite spectacular pictures. Accomodation was better than expected with some unique locations included. Especially since we had not required for high standards. Transportation is quite a challenge in most parts of the country as the roads have degraded a lot and there does not seem to be any major maintanance done. This is the case for accomodation in general. F.i. there are some railways between the more important locations but most stations are out of order and trains are only occaisonally riding. As the winter is a dry season a lot of dust was unavoidable on the roads which are sometimes crowded with lorries, zebu charts and push charts. Local food is very good and cheap for European standards. Seafood sometimes exquisite. Guides do rather focus on the lemur encounters but all of them knew a lot about the use of plants and medicinal plants. We invited them to look for insects and reptiles. We crossed the whole country from north to south. There is a big difference in standards between north and south. The south is dryer and definitely poorer. We collected a lot of water bottles which our driver handed over to the children along the road in the southern area. Whilst moving up north there is more water available and thus more crops. Landscapes varies from savanne over mountain ranges, rain forest, agricultural areas, rice terrasses and can be extremely beautiful. Temperatures can varie a lot in the different biotopes. For those who love it there are lovely islands in the north and lots of possibilities to dive or snorkle and to spot whales and dolphins. It is obvious though that most of the original forests have been destroyed for agriculture and charcoal winning. We drove along quite a few bushfires. We found the local people friendly and helpfull. We've had some lovely contacts with local children, fishermen etc. To remember. Living conditions can be quite harsh and people try to make the best of it with what they have available. Villages and towns are always crowded with people living in the streets, busy and very colourful. Having a local driver is absolutely a surplus. He contacts the guides and knows his way around.
Email B. Wilson | under20 years of age | Experience level: first safari
One of the most amazingly diverse countries on Earth, yet not adequate for safari/larger animals.
Wildlife and scenery - spectacular wherever we went
Food - some western foods, obviously, but there was traditional foods also available; some delicious, some not so.
Transportation - No coaches, buses were more Transit vans with seats. Nevertheless we still managed to get around safely and in reasonable comfort.
Highlights - Lemurs, rare species of Gecko, and the spectacular views at Andringitra NP
Email Pardo1910 | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Nature and people of Madagascar
I’ve just spent only a few days in one of the most beautiful countries i’ve ever seen in my live.
A lot of uncontaminated lands in an incredible nature frame were the local population can still keep its traditions alive.
Very little roads connections makes some part of the country difficult to be reached so that the impact of modernity is kept far away. Endemic animals and plants within an incredible landscape make this country really unique and was for me a big concentration of nature and beauty overall.
We should do everything to protect countries like this from the economic speculation, insane modernity and mass tourism.
Email abattlingbishop | 65+ years of age | Experience level: 2-5 safaris
Lemurs are endemic to this island, the 4th largest in the world.
Fort Dauphin, Madagascar
A beautiful, sunny day greeted us on Monday, day 95, when we arrived on Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world. In 1643, Fort Dauphin was the first European settlement in Madagascar. The settlement, named in honor of the Dauphin, the Crown Prince of France and future King Louis XIV, is known by locals as Tolanaro. Madagascar gained its independence in 1960.Our Fort Dauphin Highlights tour drove through the city’s bustling market. We stopped at the square near City Hall where we admired the view of the bay and harbor situated below Saint-Louis Peak. Hawkers selling carved wooden items, necklaces, and shells were active. We observed the entrance to Fort Flacourt from a respectable distance. Another stop allowed us to see the rugged coast and pleasant beaches. We passed a mining company complex of homes. The company with partial government ownership is extracting ilmenite and zircon from heavy mineral sands. This is the only local industry. Tourism is also helpful, but only eight cruise ships visited this port in the past year.
In afternoon we visited the Nahampoana Reserve, located only about 4.5 miles from town, but with only half of the road paved. Once our school bus was on the bumpy, dirt road, we encountered the small, mainly thatch roofed houses these bush people live in. Extreme poverty. The Reserve itself is about 125 acres originally a botanical garden known as the Garden of Acclimatisation. We were successful in seeing three varieties of Madagascar’s endemic lemurs: sifaka, ring-tailed, and brown. It was fun watching their leaping antics. Their large eyes are captivating. In a fenced area, we saw the head of a crocodile protruding out of a pond. A guide moved a radial turtle so some guests could more easily see it. When the turtle set back on the ground, it scrambled back to familiar territory. One young man (seeking payment) hoisted his baby hedgehog for photos. Others offered chameleons for pictures. Later, two different costumed dance groups performed for us. We learned that locals buy a cow instead of saving money in a bank. Also, it is customary for a young man to offer a cow when requesting the hand of a potential bride. If a young person becomes a herder, his pay might be one cow for a year’s work. It was sad to be shadowed by children begging.
An outstanding place for birdwatching.
We traveled with a private guide, and were looking primarily for birds although the lemurs and the lizards were fantastic. Overall the food was outstanding. We avoided high end tourist hotels and stayed in smaller more local places which suited us better.
Lots of spiders but I'm told they aren't venomous. Please don't tell me otherwise even now :-)
Abundant, photogenic, and unique wildlife. Good hotels and food. Friendly people.
Tons of wildlife, from lemurs to endemic birds to lots of reptiles and butterflies. Most of the wildlife is tame and photogenic. The local guides are very skilled at finding whatever you want to see, especially lemurs. Hotels and food are surprisingly good. Some of the roads are decent, while others are poor, and drive times can be long. The Malagasy people are friendly and hospitable. Overall, a magical destination that is completely unlike any other place on Earth. I can thoroughly recommend the services of 8th Continent Expeditions, a Malagasy-owned tour company that made the bookings for my trip.
Felt like a real adventure.
Madagascar had been on my list of countries to visit for several years. Those David Attenborough documentaries have a lot to answer for. I'm always slightly skeptical of visiting a country that has had good exposure on television; often it doesn't live up to expectations but this did, and more. When first landing in Antananarivo, a large sprawling city, it's hard to imagine the wildlife that you're likely to encounter on your travels around the country. We traveled, for the most part, as a group of sixteen in a minibus with a guide and a driver. During this time we saw rain forests, dry spiny forests, sandy beaches and national parks, each of which offered their own unique collections of wildlife.
We went in September and the weather was very pleasant. The east side of the country was a lot cooler than the west, requiring a fleece or light jacket in the evenings. Whereas the west side and middle of the country was warm enough for t-shirts and shorts. We didn't see any significant rain during this period, other than some light drizzle in the rain forest which you'd expect but this didn't spoil the exploration.
Seeing the wildlife is really what we were here for though and it didn't disappoint. We did several night walks where we were lucky enough to spot the tiny mouse lemurs, tree frogs and chameleons. The main attraction has to be the range of lemurs that you'll see. We saw beautiful indri, sifakas, bamboo lemurs and best of all we were surrounded by a family of ring-tailed lemurs at the Isalo National Park. Going in September is a good time if you still want to see the babies clinging confidently to their mums as they jump from one precarious branch to another.
The scenery we saw was as varied as the wildlife. Driving around the country it's clear how important rice is as a staple. There are paddy fields everywhere and often the mud from these is also used to make bricks, piles of which you can still see 'cooking' by the roadside in piles. Seeing Baobab Alley at sunset felt like a dream come true; the majestic trees, some of them hundreds of years old, casting long shadows into the desert and the setting sun painting everything in shades of orange and black. The Grand Tsingi was also a striking place, the stark limestone formations as sharp as needles and in stark contrast to the beautiful green backdrop. Traveling to the Tsingy and the Kirindy Dry Forest was fairly tough, the roads are rough dirt tracks traveled by 4x4 and there are two ferry crossings involved. The scenery is dramatic, but also extremely dusty and long so if you're suffering from a sensitive stomach make sure you stock up on Imodium. Our tour ended at Ifaty beach which was a good place to relax for a day or two after all the traveling. The beach is bordered by palm trees and due to the very low level of light pollution the views of the milky way glittering over the sea was absolutely spectacular.
A few tips for travelers. Take some mosquito spray for during the night and forest walks because the mossies are relentless. A good head torch is a must for spotting on the night walks also.